How did you celebrate the beginning of the New Year? Did you simply stay home and take it easy, attend a huge celebration or travel to an exotic location? Did the celebration meet your expectations? In my opinion, how you bring in the New Year is far less important than what you plan to do in it!
As a child, I remember looking forward to Easter. This was when I got a new pair of shoes and new clothes for Easter Sunday. One year, it didn’t happen. I didn’t get my new shoes and clothes. I was completely disappointed, and to this day I carry that memory. While I do not let the memory immobilize me, it’s still there. People, organizations, places and events can easily fall short of one’s expectations. Often expectations of others are unrealistic.
Perhaps you might have similar memories in your brain’s old tape file. If you do, hopefully you don’t let them immobilize you. What about your New Year’s eve experience? Was it what you thought it would be? How did you feel when there was no bolt of lightning in the sky to usher another thousand years of Western civilization? This “feeling” of unfulfilled expectations can cause a myriad of complications in your life if you allow it to. When did you last allow unfulfilled expectations to immobilize you? How did you get out of your funk?
Expectations & Behavior
Life can be quite challenging when your expectations are not met. What are your expectations for the New Year? Expectations come in all forms, for your business, for yourself and for others, just to name a few. Since you really do not have control over others, I’d suggest that you don’t put much energy there. Where you do have control is over your own behavior decisions. Your behavior choices set both an example and expectations. What behavior decisions will you rethink?
It is the behavior decisions in our lives that determine our achievement, not the perceived limitations, like the childhood memories I mentioned earlier. Or, even worse, what some ill intentioned teacher might have told you about your “limited capabilities” back in high school or some other institution. With this said, what are the possibilities for the next thousand years? Who knows? More importantly, what are your possibilities for the next twelve months? You are accountable to fulfill your own expectations. As a business owner, manager or executive, you also are accountable to assist your employees in achieving their expectations. What will you do differently in the New Year?
At the schools my sons attend, large banners are posted by the school district with their motto, “High Expectations = High Achievement”. I suspect these are really posted for the benefit of the district’s teachers. If the teachers have high expectations of their students, then hopefully they will also have high expectations of themselves. With high expectations of themselves, the teachers will deliver the kind of quality education necessary for their students to excel. Then, and only then, can the students reach their own expectations. Think about yourself as the teacher and your employees as the students. What could you do differently that would create value for your employees?
What Do You Want?
Frequently, in my seminars, I’ll tell attendees that the definition of insanity is doing what you’ve always done but expecting different results. The dawning of every New Year is a wonderful opportunity to make new behavior decisions. The break makes change psychologically easier. The subconscious accepts the new decision easier. What new behavior decisions will you make?
High on my list of recommendations is adopting the behavior I like to call the Partnering Paradigm. This is a paradigm of synergy through cooperation. It applies to your business expectations both externally and internally. It also applies to your external and internal personal expectations. In business, seek external partners to develop strategic alliances. Select partners that have complimentary core competencies to those of your company. This will give all involved the best chance for developing synergies that will create value. Internal to your company, look for new strategies to help your employees have the Emotional Ownership necessary to act as if they were an owner, to take intelligent risks essential for business growth. See my article titled; Praise for a Job Well Done (www.rigsbee.com) for low and no cost employee recognition ideas.
To help your employees develop alignment with your vision, find your company’s stories. Look for your stories that illustrate the behaviors you wish to be repeated. Retell these stories regularly to reinforce desired behaviors. Make the stories part of your culture. Achieving a successful shift in company culture takes time, please be patient. What changes would you like to make in your company’s culture?
The person you choose to be is the key to all that I’ve been saying. Your internal conversations that you have with yourself are what determine your behavior decisions. To achieve your personal expectations, you must control your behavior. When someone says, “They made me do it.” My rebuttal is usually; “I don’t think so!” Unless there is some kind of a chemical or hormonal imbalance in your physical body, YOU CONTROL YOUR BEHAVIOR. If you do have a physiological problem, seek professional help and let those around you know what’s happening. They will be more tolerant, patient and understanding.
In your personal life you also have internal (to the family) behavior issues. I find this a regular challenge in my own life. Both balance issues and how I interact with my family. I frequently catch myself allowing the communication with my teenage son to be mostly negative in dealing with my expectations of his behavior. As behavioral issues of children must be handled, also positive relationship bank deposits must be made for their emotional growth to take place. What personal behaviors must you adjust so you can meet your own expectations?
The external behaviors I mentioned in your personal life generally include extended family, friends and your community. How to you treat people? How do you give of yourself? Year-round, I donate time in my community as a youth soccer referee. How do you “show up” or personally get involved in your community? You say you’re too busy? As a colleague, Ira Blumenthal, (in reference to youth sports) says, “You can build fields or you can build prisons.” Behavior decisions in your life define who you are, a giver or a taker. We already have plenty of takers. What we really need is more givers. If you aren’t already, will you become a giver?
I’ll not ask you to make a New Year’s Resolution because most resolutions fade by Valentine’s Day, or sooner. My hope for you though, is that like the Phoenix rising anew from the ashes of devastation, you allow the New Year to be your symbol for change and rebirth. Never again in your lifetime will you have such a symbolic opportunity for renaissance. The decision of indecision is for the pathetic. William James, in The Principles of Psychology (1892) stated, “There is no more miserable human being than one in whom nothing is habitual but indecision.”
The decision to adopt a new Partnering behavior can create enormous value in many areas of your life. In business, new synergies (the sum of the whole is greater than the sum of the parts) will become possible. These synergies will become evident both externally and internally. In you personal life, a new Partnering (or cooperation) behavior will bring you closer to the ones you love and care about. You will also find a new feeling of balance in your life.
So, what are your expectations? Will you resolve to make the behavior decisions necessary to satisfy your expectations? What are my expectations? I’ll tell you. This year, I expect to double, from last year, the number of people I help in making new and different behavior decisions for their lives. I wish you the best of success in making notable behavior decisions.
Ed is the Founder and CEO of the 501(c)(3) non-profit public charity, Cigar PEG Philanthropy through Fun, and president at Rigsbee Research which conducts qualitative member ROI research and consulting for associations and societies. He has been called “the dynamite that broke up our log jam” by association executives—rarely politically correct and almost always provocative—and from a dozen years as a United States Soccer Federation referee, Ed calls it the way he sees it. Exceptional resources at www.rigsbee.com.